The ArtNow exhibition, opening Jan. 9, highlights the diversity of Oklahoma art today, featuring 24 artists and 200 works. The Jan. 20 closing event is an art sale — the first big party of the year with cocktails, tastemakers and the opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind works by Oklahoma artists. Proceeds help keep Oklahoma Contemporary exhibitions open free of charge, year-round.
Aptly titled, ArtNow is a survey of what artists are making right now in Oklahoma. In assembling this collection, we considered dozens of artists — seeking ideas from colleagues, reviewing websites and traveling hundreds of miles making studio visits across the state. This process was exceptionally rewarding, introducing us both to new artists.
The process also afforded me the opportunity to be an ambassador of sorts for the Oklahoma artist community, introducing co-curator and recent Okie Jennifer Scanlan to the artists I’ve been watching closely. ArtNow is a culmination of this process, representing the diversity of work we encountered.
Oklahoma Contemporary is a perfect venue for this kind of artistic examination, providing a place for everyone to engage with contemporary art. That is: art of this moment, art that is responding to our present day, art that can prompt new understanding of our personal experience. Thank you to Oklahoma Contemporary for providing a home for these kinds of investigations. Thank you to Jennifer Scanlan, Donna Rinehart-Keever and the rest of the hard-working staff for making this exhibition possible. And thank you, audience member, for your support of contemporary art in Oklahoma City.
Traditionally the art in ArtNow has been selected by guest curators. When I moved to Oklahoma to become the exhibitions and curatorial director last February, however, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to get to know the artistic community here.
Kelsey Karper, with her lifelong roots in and active commitment to Oklahoma arts and artists, has been an amazing co-curator and guide, and I’m very grateful for all of her work on the exhibition. I’ve met so many talented artists during this process, some of whom are featured here and others who I hope to include in future projects. I sincerely appreciate all the time that these artists spent with us so that we could learn more about their work. I join with Kelsey in thanking the exceptional staff at Oklahoma Contemporary — it’s honestly hard to single out any one, because they all contribute with passion and great professionalism to the successful outcome of this exhibition and every other aspect of the organization.
I am very excited about this year’s artists, who demonstrate through their range of creative practices Oklahoma Contemporary’s mission to encourage artistic expression in all its forms. I’m sure this year’s ArtNow will be the first of many opportunities for me to learn about the wealth of artistic talent in Oklahoma.